Legal Definition and Related Resources of Attempt

Meaning of Attempt

An endeavour or effort to commit a crime . Mere preparation for or the intention to commit the crime does not constitute attempt. The term indicates that the culprit had actually commenced the transaction which, if uninterrupted, would have proceeded to its completion, and when completed would have been an offense . See state v Stewart, 537 S. W.2d 579. In civil and matters other than criminal , the term indicates the endeavour to do an act that falls short of full execution .

Attempt Alternative Definition

In criminal law. An endeavor to accomplish a crime carried beyond mere preparation for it, but falling short of the ultimate design. 5 Cush. (Mass.) 367. The elements are (1) intent to commit a crime; (2) an affirmative act in pursuance of that intent, but falling short of the crime intended. 1 Bish. Crim. Law, § 510. Such act need not be “the last proximate act to the consummation of the crime in contemplation, but it is sufficient if it be an act apparently adapted to produce the result intended. It must be more than mere preparation.” 86 Va. 382.

Synonyms of Attempt


  • aim at
  • assay
  • be at work
  • be in action
  • bid for
  • carry on
  • conari
  • do one’s best
  • do the needful
  • drive at
  • employ oneself
  • endeavor
  • essay
  • exert oneself
  • go after
  • go all out for
  • intend
  • labor for
  • make a bid
  • make a try
  • make an effort at
  • make the effort
  • ply one’s task
  • pursue
  • put to
  • strive
  • take on
  • temptare
  • test
  • try
  • try hard
  • try one’s best
  • undertake
  • use one’s best endeavors
  • venture
  • Associated Concepts: attempt to commit a crime
  • attempt to defraud
  • attempt to prove
  • conspiracy
  • failure of intended act
  • preparatory acts
  • renunciation FOREIGN PHRASES: Affectus punitur licet non sequatur effectus
  • The intention is punished although the intended result does not follow
  • Non officit conatus nisi sequatur effectus
  • An attempt does not harm unless a consequence follows
  • In maleficiis voluntas spectatur
  • non exitus
  • In criminal offenses
  • the intention and not the result must be regarded
  • Officit conatus si effectus sequatur
  • The attempt becomes of consequence
  • if the effect follows

Related Entries of Attempt in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Attempt in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Attempt in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Attempt in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Attempt in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

You might be also interested in these legal terms:

Mentioned in these terms

Aggravated Assault, Assault, Battery, Embracery, Endeavor, Intercede, Misconduct, Preparation, Receiver, Smuggling, Takeover Bids.


You might be interested in these references tools:

Resource Description
Attempt in the Dictionary Attempt in our legal dictionaries
Browse the Legal Thesaurus Find synonyms and related words of Attempt
Legal Maxims Maxims are established principles that jurists use as interpretive tools, invoked more frequently in international law
Legal Answers (Q&A) A community-driven knowledge creation process, of enduring value to a broad audience
Related topics Attempt in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Attempt is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

Vocabularies (Semantic Web Information)


Resource Description
Topic Map A group of names, occurrences and associations
Topic Tree A topic display format, showing the hierarchy
Sitemap Index Sitemap Index, including Taxonomies The URI of Attempt (more about URIs)


See Also

  • Law Dictionaries.
  • Assault and Battery; Conspiracy; Solicitation.
  • Further Reading

    American Law Institute. Model Penal Code: Proposed Official Draft. Philadelphia: ALI, 1962.

    . Model Penal Code: Tenative Draft No. 10. Philadelphia: ALI, 1960.

    Ben-Shahar, Omri, and Harel, Alon. “The Economics of the Law of Criminal Attempts: A Victim-centered Perspective.” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 145 (1996):

    Becker, Lawrence C. “Criminal Attempt and the Theory of the Law of Crimes.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 3 (1974): 262-294.

    Comment. “Why Do Criminal Attempts Fail?: A New Defense.” Yale Law Journal 70 (1960): 160-169.

    Davis, Michael. “Why Attempts Deserve Less Punishment than Complete Crimes.” L. & Phil. 5 (1986): 1-32.

    Duff, R. Anthony. Criminal Attempts. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

    Hall, Jerome. General Principles of Criminal Law. 2d ed. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1960.

    Kadish, Sanford H., and Schulhofer, Stephen. Criminal Law and Its Processes: Cases and Materials. 6th ed. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995.

    Meehan, Eugene R. “The Trying Problem of Criminal Attempt: Historical Perspectives.” University of British Columbia Law Review 14 (1979): 137-161.

    Michael, Jerome, and Wechsler, Herbert. “A Rationale of the Law of Homicide.” Columbia Law Review 37 (1937): 701-761, 1261-1325.

    Perkins, Rollin M. “Criminal Attempt and Related Problems.” UCLA Law Review 2 (1955): 319-355.

    Rotenberg, Daniel L. “Withdrawal as a Defense to Relational Crimes.” Wisconsin Law Review (1962): 596-607.

    Sayre, Francis B. “Criminal Attempts.” Harvard Law Review 41 (1928): 821-859.

    Schulhofer, Stephen J. “Harm and Punishment: A Critique of Emphasis on the Results of Conduct in the Criminal Law.” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 122 (1974): 1497-1607.

    Shavell, Steven. “Deterrence and the Punishment of Attempts.” J. Leg. Stud. 19 (1990): 435-466.

    Williams, Glanville. Criminal Law: The General Part. 2d ed. London: Stevens, 1961.

    Attempt in Law Enforcement

    Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of attempt.


    See Also

    • Law Enforcement Officer
    • Police Officer
    • Law Enforcement Agency

    Further Reading

    English Legal System: Attempt

    In the context of the English law, A Dictionary of Law provides the following legal concept of Attempt :

    (in criminal law)

    Any act that is more than merely preparatory to the intended commission of a crime; this act is itself a crime. For example, shooting at someone but missing could be attempted murder, but merely buying a revolver would not. One may be guilty of attempting to commit a crime that proves impossible to commit (e.g. attempted theft from an empty handbag).


    Meaning of Attempt


    See Also

  • Conspiracy Solicitation
  • Criminal Law

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